HAND MADE CONCERTINA BOOKS are a delightful and enthralling artform to explore. They are especially accessible to those who don’t have a lot of confidence in their creativity and art-making skills as they can be tackled in a number of ways – through painting, drawing, collage or photography for example. Yet they also sit in the rich tradition of handmade books, artists books and bookbinding.
Wandering around one of the Bayside libraries, I found a book about making books from books, and cutting out text to create pictures. The simplicity of the materials was instantly inviting, especially sharp in contrast to lugging around 100kgs of tiles and clay and I found myself spending hours in the studio cutting, sticking, sewing, painting. I was reminded of the wonderful artist book project,UNFOLDING PROJECTS*, the brain child of artist Gali Weiss, that created relationships between Australian artists and women in Afghanistan through this medium of the book.
I have immersed myself in creating these handmade books, some about landscape, others about travel, and some in response to an invitation to participate in a group show. Its theme “Compressor” lends itself to interpretation in this art form. I was also prompted a visit to some very good friends who I hadn’t seen for a while who are book-binders. I came way from that visit with beautiful papers and inspired by the processes in their workshop. I saw a lot of potential of this art form in projects within the community and also with the tertiary students of the BA Community Mental Health and AOD – for telling stories, for play, for self-expression, and communication, as well as for the sheer pleasure of creating them.
These were made by Chisholm 1st year students.
During the year students in the Working with Family and Carers Unit (3rd year) and Community Development (1st year), as well as participants on the SECASA art group have enjoyed creating concertina books. I have noticed how absorbed people become in the making, in working out what goes on each page, the materials that will be included, and choosing words (or not). Sometimes the room is full of chatter, then all of a sudden it is totally quiet.
These books were made by two SECASA participants.
*UNFOLDING PROJECTS is an arts project instigated by artist Gali Weiss. Gali invited ten women artists, including myself, to contribute three artist books each to send to Afghanistan to women studying literacy. Most Afghan women had been denied the opportunity to learn to read and write by the Taliban but were now learning these skills. This project aimed to support their endeavours and to create links between women in both countries. They were inspired by the artbooks then wrote their own words in response to them. The books were returned to Australia, exhibited then sold to the Queensland State Library. The story of this project can be found in the book TWO TREES.